Program overview »

Engaged research »

Program requirements »

The Ph.D. in Urban Planning and Policy

The PhD program in Urban Planning and Policy at UIC has a traditional research focus, preparing students for university faculty positions as well as careers as urban policy analysts and researchers. The UPP Scholar Award is available to select students, who receive four years of funding for the program. A productive research faculty and multiple research centers in the College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs provide students with numerous research opportunities, while our undergraduate program offers meaningful teaching opportunities to talented students. The program offers advanced study of critical urban development challenges facing cities and metropolitan areas in the 21st century blending urban planning and public policy perspectives. The Program provides a unique and powerful resource for the advanced study of challenging urban problems and their complex remedies. Students participate in an interdisciplinary learning community of faculty and research staff conducting a mix of applied and theoretical studies. Graduates will leave as scholars well prepared for positions as university professors and as professional researchers.

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Program Overview

A The Ph.D. curriculum combines core requirements in theory and methods with more specialized course work in each area. Students learn advanced theory, methods and related research literature in one of five areas of specialization:

Globalization and International Planning
Community Development
Economic Development
Spatial Planning and Design
Urban Transportation
Other faculty approved specialization (e.g. Environmental Planning)

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Engaged Research

Opportunities for advanced research training and faculty supervised research projects are available within the following research centers at CUPPA:

Great Cities Institute
Center for Urban Economic Development
Voorhees Center for Neighborhood and Community Improvement
Urban Transportation Center
Survey Research Laboratory
Institute for Research on Race and Public Policy
UPP's Urban Data Visualization Laboratory

The program also builds on the University of Illinois Great Cities Initiative, providing students with a variety of research related training opportunities to engage in urban issues in the Chicago metropolitan region, the nation and the world.

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Program requirements

A minimum of 96 semester hours of graduate credit is required for the Ph.D. degree beyond the baccalaureate. Since you must have a master’s degree to enter the doctoral program, this means that most students will complete 64 additional hours of credit in the Ph.D. program to fulfill their degree requirements. (Advanced standing for masters degree, 32 credit hours.)

Required core coursework

All students must take each of the following core courses and also demonstrate competency in urban theory, policy evaluation, statistics, and economic analysis through previous master’s degree or additional course work. (17 credits +)
UPP 510 – Data Analysis for Planning and Management I (or alternate)

UPP 580 – Dissertation Proposal Workshop. 1 hour
UPP 583 – Advanced Planning Theory

UPP 588 – Research Design and Evaluation

Either UPP 589 – Data Analysis for Planning and Management II or

PA 544 – Qualitative Research Methods in Public Administration (or equivalent)

Concentration Coursework

At least 28 hours must be taken in the area of concentration, selected in consultation with a faculty committee. At least 8 hours in advanced research design and methods are required in the area of concentration. Concentrations include Spatial Planning, Urban Transportation, Community Development, Economic Development, Globalization and International Planning, or another faculty-approved concentration such as Environmental Planning. (Minimum of 28 credits)

Career Training

Students must complete a collaborative faculty/student research project or classroom teaching under faculty supervision. No more than 12 hours of credit for career training can be applied to the degree. (12 credits)

Plan of Study

Each student must have a written plan of study approved by an advisory committee. (0 credits)

Preliminary Examination

A written preliminary examine is required. An oral examination may also be required at the discretion of the committee. (0 credits)


The dissertation is required. (Minimum of 12 credits.)

More information about committees, exams, and dissertations is available on the Graduate College website.

The requirements above sum to at least 96 credit hours.

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